Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Out of last-eight race, Mumbai hopes to end campaign on a high

Aakarshit Gomel replaces Jay Bista as Mumbai takes on Madhya Pradesh in an inconsequential Ranji Trophy clash at the Wankhede Stadium.

Mumbai's Aditya Tare and Sarfaraz Khan play football at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday.   -  Vivek Bendre

You couldn’t have asked for a rubber more inconsequential than Mumbai’s season-ending Ranji Trophy tie against Madhya Pradesh. Neither the host nor MP has any chance of progressing to the quarterfinals. Even relegation is out of question, although there’s a mathematical chance of MP finishing in the bottom two.

A closer look at the teams’ campaign reveals that the culminating tie is in so many ways a clash of the equals. Both Mumbai and Madhya Pradesh - with 14 and 11 points, respectively - have under-performed for the the second season in succession. Moreover, both the teams have been plagued with the problem of lack of a cohesive unit, both on and off the field. Similarly, both the camps have seen a gulf between the players and the support staff.

No wonder then that heading into the last round, Mumbai is placed 14th while Madhya Pradesh is occupying the 16th position in a combined table of 18 teams from Group A and B.

READ: Bengal, Punjab clash for knockout berth

At the same time, both the outfits realise that finishing the campaign on a high will set the platform to start preparing for the next season.

The Mumbai selectors have finally run out of patience with Jay Bista as Aakarshit Gomel has received his maiden Ranji call-up as an opener. It would be interesting to see if Gomel earns his Mumbai cap on Wednesday or the team management asks Hardik Tamore - who scored a big hundred against Saurashtra U-23 in the C.K. Nayudu Trophy last week - to open the innings.

While reiterating the need to focus on “processes” rather than worrying about “results”, Mumbai captain Aditya Tare hoped batting and bowling points would be introduced to avoid dead rubbers like the one that’s in offing.

“One thing that Indian cricket should do is to look at the points system, have batting and bowling points, something that UK has. Even if there’s no outright result, there are still a lot of points to grab. That’ll keep the contest interesting and every team will have a lot to look forward, especially since with neutral curators, you don’t know what’s in store,” Tare said.

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